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Posted by: Breeze not logged in ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 05:12AM

Some of you have written about the social awkwardness you feel, after leaving the Mormon cult, and especially your discomfort in being around Mormons. Many of you have been shunned and maligned by Mormons family members and former “friends.”

Another problem I share with many of you is my not knowing what I want, and don’t want. I have spent a lifetime catering to the dominant Mormons in my family, being obedient to their wishes, trying to second-guess what would make THEM happy, with little consideration of my own wishes and preferences. We try to do the “right” thing, instead of what is the best thing for our happiness and well-being. Whenever someone writes, “I don’t know who I am”, I understand this.

The Christmas season is approaching, and I’m already receiving invitations to various parties, open houses, and other activities with friends. My aunt, who was a great lady whom I admired always told us, “Never turn down an invitation,” and I have said, “yes” to most, and am really looking forward to the parties.

But, for some reason, I haven’t been able to reply my ex-sister-in-law’s invitation. She has invited all of my in-laws’ remaining family members, and their children, including all of my children and grandchildren, to a lovely dinner. She and her husband and I were friends at BYU, and we double-dated with my ex, and they include me, because I’m the mother of their nieces and nephews, and we laugh and have a good time…but the four times my ex and his new wife decided to show up, my SIL called and told me not to come!

I won’t go into detail, but this fanatical-Mormon in-law family (I’ll call them the Smith family) has been terribly dysfunctional, with suicides, drug addictions, and adultery. The reason adultery depresses me is that my ex cheated on me for our entire marriage and I didn’t know about it, until several years after he left us! I did know that he didn’t love us, as he was physically and mentally abusive—a real jerk! My ex’s brother cheated on his wife also, and the two of them had always covered up for each other. I’ll never know if the SIL-who-is-having-the-dinner or her parents knew about the multiple affairs, but SIL’s husband knew.

My ex abandoned his children, totally, with no contact at all for 6 years, and then, a Christmas card, once a year. He gave no acknowledgement of their graduations, birthdays, weddings, birth of their children, over many, many years. My Smith in-laws blamed us wives and not their sons for the divorces. They ignored our children, because they felt the divorces nullified the temple sealings, and, therefore their sons’ children were no longer sealed to them as their “eternal grandchildren.” The Smith’s broke off all contact with our children, even though they lived a few blocks away. This abandonment and betrayal by both fathers, plus the Smith grandparents, deeply hurt our children, and one cousin committed suicide. She left a note, so there was no doubt about the cause of her despair.

After the suicide, I stopped my one-sided efforts to keep a relationship with the Smith in-laws. I was frightened. I was also broke, with no alimony or child support, and I moved across the city, where I could be close to my new job, and housing was less expensive. My own parents were deceased.

I’m proud of my children! Ours is a success story! My children became a good influence on their cousins, and at various times, tried to help them get off of drugs, and with employment, and my daughter introduced her cousin to the man her cousin married. My children have been good friends to the Smiths.

Ten years later, the Smith in-laws died, and my SIL and her husband began inviting us to their family Christmastime dinner. She is trying to carry on the tradition that the Smith in-laws had before their sons got divorced. My ex and his brother never went to SIL’s dinners. My sons didn’t want to go, so I didn’t force them, but my daughter wanted to go, a few times, so we went, off and on. Sometimes our work and other obligations got in the way. It isn’t a tradition set in stone, except now, as adults, my children go every year.

When my children became adults, they visited their father, on their own, and the visits were painful for them. He is nasty and rejecting. They have made special visits to show him each new grandchild, but he seemed indifferent.

There is so much more to tell, but I’ll get to the point.

I’ve known these people for over 25 years, now, but it has been off and on. I care about my SIL and her kids, as messed-up as they are, and as fanatically Mormon as they are. They still consider me to be their “aunt.” But, somehow, I feel that I would like to put everything behind me, like, it’s over. They are not really MY family. My children are adults, and can carry on as they see fit. One of my sons doesn’t want his kids to think being on drugs is OK. The dysfunction is continuing on into the next generation. A few of them have left the cult, so they are more accepting of our disbelief. I’m less accepting of their on-going mental problems and drug problems, and I feel that there is absolutely nothing we can do to help them at this point. I don’t want my kids to think I condone that lifestyle, or what their father did was OK, or that denial is normal, or that it is necessary to be fake.

I don’t want to be awful, and abandon people, like my ex and the Smith’s did to us. But I don’t want to feel awkward and out-of-place, anymore. I don’t want to go and be reminded of my abusive, cheating ex, and my niece’s suicide, and those dark days of being beaten and demeaned, as a submissive Mormon wife. I have pity for these people. Yet, there’s the temptation to “dress for success” , and brag, and show everyone how great my children are, and how well our lives have turned out. Or, should I (we) not care what others think, and continue to move on with our lives, in our own direction, as we have done. Even in moderation, once a year, this contact gives me PTSD flashbacks.

If I want to forget the bad stuff, must I also forget the good stuff associated with it?

Should I un-friend my ex’s sister, in order to get over the haunting PTSD and nightmares of my ex? Do I owe them anything? What would my children think of me, if I ditch the dinner and go off with my own cousins, instead? Do I need to make a stand for what is good and noble, or just let it go? I’m so confused, and I don’t know what I really WANT to do. What I want to do is recover.

After last year’s dinner, I felt depressed for days. Waaa-waaa, am I just whining? They commented on how much one of my sons looks like his ugly troll of a father. They talked about what lovely parents and grandparents the Smiths were. They took photos of the kids and me, for my ex to leer at on Facebook, and he doesn’t even bother to call them on the phone. Ordinarily, I love parties and socializing….Why am I having so much anxiety over this one party? I. Need. Help.

It’s 3:00 am.

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Posted by: elove ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 06:29AM

Wow. Very tough things going on. My heart goes out to you.

Here is my two cents. take it for what it’s worth. I am not ex-Mormon and am new to this group. So I’m not conversant with the intricacies and details of the specific LDS stuff, but I know people and I know toxicity.

You are NOT obligated to go anywhere you don’t want to. Period. No one owns you. Someone can’t just invite you somewhere and highjack your time and your spirit and your energy. If going will be a negative outcome for you, you don’t have to do it.

Can I come over to your house right now and say “Spend the next 5 yours scrubbing your floors”? No! Why is it different if I write it on a piece of paper and instead of telling you what to do right now its in 6 weeks.... still the same thing. No one owns you.

Sometimes however, you do have to make a calculation. If you go, you will experience X negative feelings. But if you don’t go someone might say something or otherwise cause trouble for you so there is Y negativity associated with that option. It’s no win. And you have to do the math in your head and decide which is great- X or Y.

But no one can make that decision but you. That is your right as an autonomous human being. You don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed or justify yourself to anyone.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 06:47AM

There is absolutely no need for you to go. As you point out, they are not your family. It makes you feel unhappy. Just decline and say that you have made other plans for that day.

Your children are grown, so they can make their own decisions. You did your duty by them while they were minors. But now it's time to let go.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 10:56AM

I didn't know who I was and I didn't even know that I didn't know who I was. Boy Do I relate to you. Also my TBM family was like your in-laws---very embracing but with an "arms-length." Luke Warm.

Do not go. You would be twisting the knife still in your back. You didn't put it there but blade is still there. What has happened to you is not something that time has healed. Perhaps it has been numbed a little.

An important question. People have parties for themselves no matter how many are invited. Does she really want you there or is this an opportunity to show she is the most magnanimous hostess ever? Also, "Isn't it time to quit doing your duty?" We were engrained with that as Mormons and it lingers. "Is she just doing her duty?"

You seem to like SIL a lot. If you do, tell her you cannot come to her party that it is too painful and brings back too many memories. Invite her to lunch to reclaim your friendship on neutral territory to see if there is something there between you other than family baggage.

Then continue the friendship sans family parties or part as two people who care about each other but no longer have anything in common. This could give closure to the situation so you can forget it.

That's what came to my mind anyway. You never know what will end up there.

Good luck. You know yourself better than you think I think.

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Posted by: bobofitz ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 11:02AM

It sounds like the “crazy game” legacy of the grandparents is continuing. Some people just love the action. But these puppet masters need others to play so they can work their magic and manipulate. Don’t play. You’re too nice. Remember, if you wrestle with pigs, you’re going to get muddy....and the pigs love it.

Stay clear. Don’t be a pawn in this Holiday drama...because that’s what it is.

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Posted by: valkyriequeen ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 11:09AM

IMO, you shouldn't have to feel like you need to please anyone; especially with those who seem to fit the description of "emotional vampires".

My husbands' sister and her husband, and their offspring, were and still are horrible people.

A couple of times, I convinced my husband that because they are "family", we should make the effort to reconcile and get together.

Those times were disastrous. Snide remarks to us, innuendos, put downs and those were the gentle things.

They would try to shake us down for money; and then things got gradually worse. One of the nephews went to prison for awhile because he tried to kill his brother while he was asleep. Another time, the BIL got out a rifle while he was drunk and was going to shoot his brother.

They have done so many crooked things that I'm surprised that they aren't all in prison right now.

These folks are an extreme example and your ex's relatives may not be like that, but they can wreck havoc with your emotional well-being.

We haven't associated with them for over 20 years and it's been good; we did not want our kids around them for even a second.

The bottom line, is for you to do what will make you feel at peace and at ease; time to do something for yourself.

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Posted by: logged off today ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 01:40PM

You owe them nothing. You've already gone above & beyond what might reasonably be expected.

You've been invited to several parties. You miss one, so what? Instead of socializing at 7 events, you have fun at 6. No loss that I can see.

However, **IF** you decide to go (big if), go on your own terms. Dress as you want, go in with your head held high, and look them in the eye. Let SIL know that this is a test and a last chance; at the first sign of trouble, or if anything or anyone makes you uncomfortable, you will leave on the spot and will further reject any and all future invitations. Unfriend, block, disown. Cut out the cancer.

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Posted by: Warrior71783 ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 02:20PM

Every holiday i have PTSD and anxiety hence all my posts. Every year society is forced to acknowledge these holidays and it gives our abusers of the past(family) the excuse to use these holidays as a weapon to make us feel guilty that we HAVE to gather with them and put up with what we know is coming. Cult talk or demeaning talk at where you are in life compared to them.

I say every holiday is friendsgiving from now on. I owe no allegiance or need to pay homage to any blood relative that spoke ill of me at one point or another. If i don't put my foot down now on this holiday the pattern will never end. This is a beginning of a new trend of friendsgivings only for me.

I still don't know who i completely am by the way and i have been in therapy a while. I probably know 25 percent of who i really am right now. Which at the beginning of therapy i knew 0 percent of who i was. I know that i am empathic warrior of some kind. I am different from the whole of society no matter what i do so i am just accepting it now. I think like a warrior from another universe and i admit that. I've had many professions in life but at the end of the day i am just a warrior. Like the spartans professions are just to be spartans. I drive for money though right now but still a warrior driving people around to their destinations.

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Posted by: ookami ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 03:12PM

My sperm donor is toxic like the "Smith" family and my advice to you is what I'm telling my mother and sisters about why I'm not going home for Christmas; "Life is too short to spend with people who make you feel like crap."

I recommend you spend time with your kids and other people you ENJOY being around.

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Posted by: Warrior71783 ( )
Date: December 02, 2019 10:03AM

ookami Wrote:
> My sperm donor is toxic like the "Smith" family
> and my advice to you is what I'm telling my mother
> and sisters about why I'm not going home for
> Christmas; "Life is too short to spend with people
> who make you feel like crap."
> I recommend you spend time with your kids and
> other people you ENJOY being around.

I'm going to use that quote from now on. "Life is too damn short to spend with people that make you feel like crap"

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Posted by: idleswell ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 03:44PM

Only one comment for the OP: Unless you decide, others will likely decide for you. You may not like their imposed sentence.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: November 28, 2019 07:42PM

idleswell Wrote:
> Unless you decide, others will likely decide for you.

Yup. You won't discover what you want if you keep doing what others want.

Make your own choices and plans. They might not all work out but at least they'll be YOUR choices. And you'll discover yourself faster.

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Posted by: laperla not logged in ( )
Date: November 27, 2019 08:27PM

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Posted by: exminion ( )
Date: November 28, 2019 05:50PM

Are we related? Seems like we have the same dysfunctional Mormon family. I'm sorry you have had to endure the abuse and unhappiness that such a family can cause. Be glad that you and your children "escaped", even if you're only a few miles away. Rejoice that you are no longer in that sick cult that spawns such families. I'm sorry about your niece. How sad that the innocent have to suffer.

Often, it's difficult to see exactly what is going on, when you are so up close and personal in your perspective. Sometimes, you understand only in retrospect, when it's too late. However, you have the insight and experience to prevent or avoid further damage by this toxic family, moving forward. You have your grandchildren to think about.

I tried to have a relationship with each individual in my toxic Mormon family--after all, each person is unique, right? Over many years, I struggled to keep my self-esteem, to live without name-calling and put-downs, to try to stop further physical abuse (you can't stop psychopaths), to struggle alone with my PTSD. I never did expect anything positive from these people, in the first place. My only hope was to be treated with common decency, respect, instead of being treated like dirt. Anyway, it was a major fail! I should have given up, right away, when I left the cult, and when I got divorced, and when I fled from my abusers.

Listen to your gut! If I had cut off contact when I felt I should, I would not have been abused further, would not have had thousands of dollars stolen from me, would not have put my children in harm's way. Nothing is worth sacrificing your children!

I do feel that in attending your SIL's and other "Smith family" parties, you are, by example, showing your children that these people should be in your lives. Decide if this family will help or harm your children. If you see danger signs, then opt out! Your kids are adults, but they just might follow you. You turn down the invitation, for yourself, tell your kids you aren't going, and don't mention it again. They just might forget to go, or something else might come up, who knows. Your kids seem to be coping with their father, just fine.

Congratulations on raising such good children!

I think you really do know what you want! I think you are afraid of being a bad person. You're afraid of rebellion, or of being rude, or of being ungrateful, or unloving, or unkind. This is part of being the good person you are!

Don't worry about your SIL. She un-invited you! How rude! If her husband knew about all the adultery, then so did she. So did the parents and the brother. If he had a history of immorality, they knew that, too. None of them respected you or cared enough to warn you. After you were married, they didn't respect you or your children enough to tell you, so you could cope with the truth, or divorce the abusive jerk on the grounds of adultery.

"The Smiths" are a family of secrets and lies and phoniness. You want to separate yourself from those family traits, right? So, do it!

You want to not go, I can tell, so we here on RFM give you permission to ditch the party, without any guilt! You owe the Smith's nothing! You seem very social, so enjoy your other Christmas parties. I like the suggestion that you invite your SIL to lunch, somewhere Christmassy and fun, though I can't understand why you still like this person.

I believe that anxiety--especially PTSD--is triggered for a reason. Something is wrong. You are wise to look into it, and then solve whatever problem is upsetting you.

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Posted by: spiritualitysbest ( )
Date: November 29, 2019 11:23AM

We are not!! these categories! (all these denominations man has come up with) we are not really "categories" at all anyway, it is all so silly, creates division and hurt feelings. FAmily should supercede all of it ! even in the articles of faith it clearly says, They believe everyone should be able to worship according to their own feelings and beliefs. Its written right in the A of F. SO, enjoy your family, time, and perhaps remind them of that. For examp., I have friends where I live that are Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist you name it, if we have holiday party, all are invited.

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Posted by: june ( )
Date: November 29, 2019 06:30PM

Dear Breeze not logged in,

I am so sorry to hear that you are going through all this. I'm so glad that this board is here for people to connect with others who have been through similar things.

YOU ARE NOT whining. You are expressing your feelings in a constructive manner.

YOU ARE NOT awful. You are reaching out to others and healing from your experiences. Strong and loving people put energy into healing.

YOU ARE NOT abandoning anyone. People who truly love us will be there if, and when, we are ready to be with them again.

Hang in there...

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Posted by: Mother Who Knows ( )
Date: November 29, 2019 10:51PM

That "great lady" who said to never turn down an invitation, was probably a Relief Society president, right?

Don't go to the party! Call a (real) friend, watch a funny movie, or do something kind for someone who needs or deserves it, or clear out your closet, or post here and tell us how it's going.

I'm an introvert by nature, though I acted like an extrovert for most of my life. My over-socializing and over-zealousness in Mormonism got in the way of my 2 deepest relationships. Having many fake-friends is not worth the cost of losing even one REAL friend. Mormons value extroverts, because they are instrumental in converting others into the cult. Trying to change my true character also caused me to lose touch with who I was. I was always beating myself up when I fell short of everyone's expectations of popularity. Mormon women seem to be extremely competitive, in every aspect of their lives.

You might be confused because what you are supposed to want is in opposition to what you really want, deep in your heart.

The problem might not be YOU, at all. You seem to have plenty of other friends, and social opportunities. Why is only this one particluar party bothering you so much?

Maybe you are merely "perceptive", and can feel bad vibes coming from these people. It's that competitiveness among Mormons, the jealousy, the gossiping, the judgments, blame, the shunning that you feel. Yes, a lot of your pain is in the past, and apparently the shunning period is over. But you don't see it as being in the past, at all, and you might be right. Have these people changed? Have they left the cult that taught them their ugly behaviors and attitudes? Have they apologized to you? My TBM family is a lot like yours, and they never owned up to any mistakes or cruelty. They had suicides, too, and they blamed everyone and everything else for these tragedies.

Dallin Oaks is quoted on another thread as saying that the Mormon church never apologizes.

If you go to that party dressed in an adorable new outfit, with a beautiful smile, being the most successful woman, ever, being the most beloved mother, ever, those pigs will still blame you for your divorce, and condemn you as an apostate who has left the fold to follow Satan.

The bottom line is that you can't win. Even when you're not playing their game, the Mormons will still defeat you. They are "warriors" defending their dying cult, and you need to suffer. (Am I being too extreme, here?) Most Mormons are unaware of their inner hatred. Most non-Mormons feel it as a "lack of love." Whatever.

Already, you have wasted your valuable energy. You are anxious, and I hope this didn't ruin your Thanksgiving. Don't let the jerks ruin any more moments.

You and your children don't owe them anything. It was they who shunned you, for many years, and you're just being human, if you feel "the knife still in your back."

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Posted by: Warrior71783 ( )
Date: December 02, 2019 10:20AM

It is an unwinnable game. Just getting away from the gossiping and not letting it affect you is a heroic effort alone.

P.S. They are not true warriors if they defend corruption and abuse.

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Posted by: baldman ( )
Date: November 30, 2019 03:02PM

Little consideration to your own needs sounds familiar. I think it is for many of us. I still sometimes put on the submissive face to avoid conflict with them, just to keep them out of my face and maintain a degree of peace with my in-laws.

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